NFC wild card: Vikings (10-6) at packers (11-5): Pack aims to be 'smarter' vs. Peterson

2013-01-05T00:00:00Z NFC wild card: Vikings (10-6) at packers (11-5): Pack aims to be 'smarter' vs. PetersonThe Associated Press The Associated Press
January 05, 2013 12:00 am  • 

GREEN BAY, Wis. - It's not just wild card weekend in Minnesota and Green Bay. It's Groundhog Day.

Six days after facing off in the regular-season finale, and five weeks after their first meeting of the season, the Vikings and Packers are at it again tonight at Lambeau Field, where the temperatures are expected to be in the teens. This is no yawner of a sequel, though, not when the stakes are win or winter vacation.

"Like I tell the team, it doesn't matter who comes out of that tunnel," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "It's about fundamentals, matchups. We're playing at home, it's going to be a great environment (outside). ... The Vikings obviously have done a great job to get into the (playoffs) ... but this is a different deal."

Minnesota (10-6) and Green Bay (11-5) split their first two meetings, with the Vikings' 37-34 victory last Sunday in Minneapolis giving them the last wild card spot. It also dropped the Packers from the No. 2 to the No. 3 seed, and forced the NFC North champs to work a weekend they were hoping to have off.

The Vikings' game plan is simple: Give the ball to Adrian Peterson and get out of the way.

That's the plan pretty much every week, especially against Green Bay. He's rushed for 409 yards in their two games and is averaging 7.4 yards per carry. He had the longest run of his career, 82 yards for a touchdown, in the Dec. 2 game, a 23-14 loss, and a career-high 34 carries Sunday.

Peterson has gained more yards against Green Bay (1,442 in 12 games) than any other team, and he chews up the Lambeau Field grass as easily as the Metrodome turf.

"It's just the rivalry," the running back said. "There's more emphasis on that game because we know that's a team that we have to beat in order to accomplish our goals we've set forth."

Yeah, but the Packers had a goal last weekend, too, and that didn't help against Peterson.

"We had the right calls, we just need to be a little smarter, as far as where we fit, and then a little more accountable and reliable as far as what we do," Packers linebacker Clay Matthews said.

Minnesota hasn't won in Green Bay since 2009, but the Packers have lost their last two home playoff games, including last year to the Giants when they were the NFC's No. 1 seed.

"It's not something we've thought about or really talked about since probably April," Packers QB Aaron Rodgers said. "(But) I like the way we're playing now. We have the right mindset."

That's because the Packers' top four receivers - Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Randall Cobb - are all healthy now, and the Vikings got an idea of how tough it will be to contain them last week, when the Packers piled up 405 yards of offense and scored 34 points.

After playing twice in December, the division rivals know each other so well they could probably call each other's plays.

"Not a whole lot needs to be discussed as far as getting motivated to play this game," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said.

Wild card Weekend

Today

• Bengals at Texans: 2:30 p.m. on Channel 4 and 1490-AM

• Vikings at Packers: 6 p.m. on Channel 4 and 1490-AM

Sunday

• Colts at Ravens: 11 a.m. on Channel 13 and 1490-AM

• Seahawks at Redskins: 2:30 p.m. on Channel 11 and 1490-AM

The breakdown

• What: Vikings (10-6) at Packers (11-5)

• When: 6 p.m. on Channel 4 and 1490-AM

• The line: Packers by 7 1/2

• Record vs. spread: Minnesota 9-7; Green Bay 9-7

• Series: Packers lead 54-49-1

• Notable: First wild card rematch of regular-season finale since 2009, when three of four wild cards, including Green Bay's loss to Arizona, were do-overs. ... NFC North rival Packers and Vikings have met once in postseason, a 31-17 Minnesota victory at Lambeau in 2004 NFC wild card. ... Packers WR Donald Driver and Minnesota DT Kevin Williams, DB Antoine Winfield and C Cullen Loeffler are only players left from 2004 game. ... Packers were 7-1 at Lambeau this season, including a 23-14 win over Minnesota, while Vikings were 3-5 on road.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

NFL standings and stats


Cardinals schedule (all times Eastern)








Follow the Arizona Daily Star


Featured businesses

View more...

Deals, offers & events

View more...

Video